Insightful Solutions provides Daily Money Managing, Budgeting, Bill Paying, and Peace of Mind to senior citizens and their families. Since 2001, Insightful Solutions has been offering individualized solutions to assist clients with daily financial and paper management needs.
We assist senior citizens with bill paying, budgeting, and credit card monitoring. We make sure no aspect of daily financial life goes unrecognized. Our seniors are afforded peace of mind knowing they will not fall victim to financial fraud or scams. We help seniors remain financially independent.
Mission: To help seniors remain financially independent.
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[04/13/17] Don't forget tax filing deadline this year is Tuesday, April 18th.
[03/05/16] I was recently trying to help a client repair her poor credit score. She didn't realize that paying her bills on time each month was a critical factor. Nor did she realize that every time she applied for a store credit card, her credit history was pulled and it had an impact on her credit score. I've found this problem to be very common. Saving 5% on a shirt and a pair of pants may seem great at the time, but can have negative results down the road. Protect your credit score. It matters.
Do you know what a FICO score is, or how it’s calculated? That’s important information to know, as it impacts your life on a daily basis.
FICO scores are the credit scores created by Fair Isaac Corporation. Virtually all the top lenders use FICO scores to determine weather an individual is a good or bad credit risk. Your score is a direct correlation to your credit report. According to Investopedia,your payment history makes up 35% of your FICO score, while your total debt owed amounts to 30% of your final FICO score. Making up the final 15%, 10% and 10% of your FICO score are the length of your credit history, any new credit that you have taken on, and the type of credit you have used.
A low FICO score means: you can be turned down for an apartment, made to pay a higher interest rate on an auto loan, and have higher monthly mortgage payments. If you’ve made late payments on credit cards or mortgage payments, defaulted on a loan, or have a high debt-to-credit ratio, every month when you pay your rent, you could be paying a higher price than your neighbor. Or when you make your monthly car payment, the guy down the street may be paying less than you because he has a higher FICO score.
Learn how to increase your FICO score. And ask for assistance if you need help setting a budget, getting spending under control, and for general money questions. A daily money manager can help with all of these issues.
[10/21/15] What does it mean to get a referral? Generally speaking, when I provide the name of a service provider, that means I’ve vetted the company, used the company, and/or found the company to provide excellent service. Isn’t that why the first place an individual asks for a referral is through family and friends. You trust what they have to say. But don’t limit yourself when finding an excellent service provider. Your daily money manager, dentist, or realtor can provide valuable information. Go with who you know.
[09/30/15] Just searched twitter for "overdraft." Troubling how many younger people don't understand/know that if you spend more than is in your checking account, weather via debit card or check, then you are assessed an overdraft fee. Why aren't we teaching the next generation about basic finance? Why aren't parents explaining to their children something that is absolutely vital and critical for them to know!
Credit Card Late Fees
Ever thought of pulling out a $100 bill, lighting it on fire, and watching it burn? You got nothing for your $100. Well, when you have late payments on your credit cards each month or on your utility payments, essentially you’re lighting a $20 bill or a $100 bill on fire. Why waste that money by paying bills late? At a minimum, set up auto payments for your credit cards. Have the minimum payment due come out every month on the due date. Then you are never assessed a late fee. Follow that up with a second payment that attacks the credit card balance.
Buy a house, or buy a bigger house with a bigger mortgage? With the various loans available, people are encouraged to buy the biggest house they can afford. This leads to a troubling situation of being house poor and possibly not prepared for a financial emergency. Home ownership is not right for everybody. Here is an article that does a great job in explaining how not to be house poor. http://usat.ly/1UOrVww
usatoday.com I have an offer for you. I'm going to give you the opportunity to buy a $250,000 item for either $310,000 or $416,000. It's not a trick. It's a 15-year mortgage vs. a 30-year mortgage.
When it comes to finances, I do try to practice what I preach. I can honestly say I've never incurred credit card debt, have diligently invested money every month since I was 23, and always planned for retirement. Last night I had a small panic attack thinking, "wow, I'm 46. My earning years are getting shorter in number. I need to step up my investments." Here's a link to a good article that discusses basic things to do to save for retirement. http://money.cnn.com/gallery/retirement/2015/09/01/how-much-do-i-need-for-retirement/index.html
money.cnn.com Joe is 50 years old and makes $70,000 a year. He should already have $364,000 saved for retirement. Are you on track?
[06/16/15] For users of the password storage system, LastPass, the company has been hacked. At a bare minimum, change your master password for your LastPass account.
[04/15/15] Stop the prom insanity. According to Visa, the average teen (or rather the teen's parents) spend $978 on prom. That is insane. Reality check. Do you have credit card debt? Then you can't afford $978 for prom. Are you still paying off Christmas bills? Then you can't afford $978 for prom. The average family of four spends between $544-$1235 a month on food. As much as one night in a dress/tux and a party. We really need to evaluate our priorities.
cnn.com They are very convincing when they call. They have a Washington phone number and can cite your financial history down to the cent.
cnn.com Actor Rob Lowe wants you to take the time this year to talk to your parents about their long-term care.
The holiday season seems to be the time of year when most people want to donate to a charity. It is also a time when the well-intended donation should go to a legitimate charity and not a scam organization. Please check out one of the following websites to see if your charity is really "charitable." www.charitynavigator.org; www.give.org; www.charitywatch.org
Make your donation count.
charitynavigator.org Charity Navigator, America's largest independent charity evaluator, provides free ratings of the Financial Health and Accountability & Transparency of thousands of charities. We are the individual donor's first source for unbiased news and information on philanthropy, nonprofit organizations, wise g…
[07/20/14] Do you lock the door of your home when you leave? Why is that? I'm guessing it is to protect your valuables. Then why don't you have a passcode on your smartphone? Only about 1/3 of individuals have a passcode. Should the phone be lost or stolen, all the information is available for anyone to access. Treat the information on your phone that same as you treat the valuables in your home - lock it up!
[02/26/14] Thinking about starting your own business? Doesn't it seem glamorous to work for yourself! Then tax time comes. Social Security Tax is assessed at 6.2% should you choose to work for another company. Self employed? Jump on board with a Social Security Tax of 12.4%. Self employed are on the hook for double the Medicare Tax as well. 2.9% for 2013. Due diligence is in order when deciding to start your own business.
One suggestion I make to all my clients, as well as my family and friends, is to get a copy of your credit report. Every person is allowed a free copy every year, from each of the three reporting agencies: Equifax, TransUnion, and Experian. It's free! Did I mention it is free. I'm posting this message again because of the recent breach of information for shoppers at Target. This report should be requested as a matter of due diligence. If you have children, regardless of the age, request a report as well. Identity theft for toddlers and infants is a hugely growing problem. A few years ago I requested a report for each of my parents. We found out that my dad had two social security numbers attached to his name. Had we not caught it, when he applied for social security benefits it could have thrown up a red flag.
Requesting a copy is easy. Go to www.annualcreditreport.com. If you are having problems, don't hesitate to contact Insightful Solutions, LLC Solutions. We'll walk you through the process.
Now do it!
[12/02/13] Another holiday season is upon us. And that means too many people spending too much money on too many things that they, or their children, really don't need. The holiday season should be about the time you spend with family and friends, not about things.
[09/30/13] I'm a big proponent of having a financial emergency fund set up. Analyzing your spending is a good place to begin. No matter how little, most individuals can save a few dollars each month. With the possible government shutdown, my guess is more people wished they had planned ahead. Don't wait for an emergency to begin planning - start now.
[09/23/13] According to T. Rowe Price, approximately 50% of kids receive an allowance. Of those kids, 1/3 burn through the money and ask mommy and daddy for more. And 80% of parents cave! Stop the madness. What kind of example are you (parents) setting for your kids? Have you taught them budgeting or money management? If not, then you're at fault.
[09/12/13] Don't forget estimated quarterly taxes are due next week.
Are you breathing a sigh of relief that tax day has come and gone? Many people wait til the last minute, and truly pay the price, both in money and anxiety. At the last minute there is scrambling to gather documents. When should you have started compiling documents for the 2013 tax year? On January 1, 2013. Yes, four months ago.
I recently received an email from a woman inquiring what files she should set up for the upcoming tax year. When it comes to files, my motto is to keep it as simple as possible. The one critical file I encourage all my clients to keep is a very general, “tax” file. For this year, mine says “Taxes 2013.” And while I have files for various other topics, the main folder simply says taxes. In that folder goes any donation forms throughout the year, tax statements (property, estimated quarterly), and year- end 1099s for investments and mortgage interest. In February, I go through the file and do my taxes.
I pay most of my bills via credit card. I’m able to print out a year end summary, so any expenses I itemize are in one area. For those bills I pay via my bank account, at year end I print out my monthly bank statement, and calculate my expenses from them. In most cases, having a separate folder for each tax item is just plain crazy. I try to limit the amount of paper that comes into my house. Because once paper comes in, it rarely goes out again.
Why does the uncomplicated system work? Because it is simple.
Are you aware of the new government rule that social security checks must now be set to direct deposit or via a Master Card. No more paper checks. The law goes into effect March 1, 2013. I recently found this out, and I consider myself fairly well informed.
Here's the rub. How many 88 year old people are computer savvy? How do they sign up? How many 91 year olds actually know of the new law? Very few. And if they don't know about the situation, how can they comply? My 88 year old grandmother lives in an assisted living facility. She has 11 other women that share the area. When I visited my Granny in December I asked the women if they were aware of the law. Not a single one had heard of the new requirement. And one of the women still received a paper check.
While I completely agree with the law, I think the government has done an abysmal job in informing social security recipients of the new requirements. If you, or a family member, still receives a paper check, either visit www.ssa.gov to sign up, or call 800-772-1213.
Is it ever smart to borrow money from a family member? Or to loan a family member money? Honestly, I think it is unwise, though many people do it. If you find yourself on either end of this situation, remember this one item: make it a legitimate business transaction. That way neither party feels taken advantage of or resentful. Have a contract that spells out repayment terms, interest payments, and any other pertinent items. Also establish the purpose of the loan. You may think you're loaning your brother money to pay his rent while he is unemployed. Yet brother shows up at Thanksgiving dinner driving a new motorcycle. Let the resentment begin.
Once you loan money to a family member without stipulations, you become the family ATM.
Have you started holiday shopping? If not, that’s great. You still have time to set a budget. And plenty of time NOT to overspend. Here’s how.
Figure out how much you can afford to spend on gifts. I did not say how much you WANT to spend, but what you can AFFORD to spend. Recognizing the difference will always save you from going into debt. Once you have a budget, then make your list. Decide how much of the budget will be spent on each person. Lastly, stick to the budget.
Trust me, no kid ever died because they didn’t get all 9 toys on his/her list. And Aunt Suzy won’t cut you out of the will when she doesn’t receive a $100 present.
Remember this: it is never okay to go into consumer debt just to keep up appearances.
As I said in my last post, the process of selling my house went amazingly well. At the same time I was selling, I was also looking at homes to purchase, so I was able to view the process from
both a buyer’s and seller’s perspective. Here are my five tips on how to get top dollar for your house in record time. While some of the comments may seem harsh, either you want to sell your house or you don't. Either you're motivated to sell or you're not.
1) People really, REALLY don't want to see your crap lying all around. Clean up. Pick up. Is it a pain to make sure your toothbrush is put away? Yes. Dirty laundry should not be on the bedroom floor. Dishes should not be in the kitchen sink. Your house is a showpiece during this process. Your house may have a comfortable, lived-in look every day, but once it goes on the market it better look like nobody lives in it.
2) Prospective buyers really, REALLY don't like your kids. You may love them, but buyers don't. And as inconvenient as it might be, if a buyer wants to look at your house and Junior is taking a morning nap, sadly you are going to have to wake Junior up. I realize the baby may be cranky for the next few hours and it throws off your schedule, but why would you pass up a possible sale. Also clean up the kids' toys. Yes, you may not be able to keep every toy off the floor, but the first thing to do before putting the house on the market is downsize the toys to a manageable level.
3) Buyers seriously hate your pets. I looked at a home in which one of the bedrooms was inaccessible because the owners didn't want the cat to get out. They wanted me to buy the house without seeing it all. If you have an open house, Fluffy and Fido need to go to a kennel. Your Rottweiler may be the sweetest dog on the planet, but he looks intimidating to the couple walking through your house. While the house is on the market you may need to make other arrangements for your pet. Do not expect a prospective buyer to offer top dollar on your house when they can't see the back bedroom.
4) Besides being tidy, make sure your house has been cleaned. If you have pets, a prospective buyer better not see a single cat hair on the kitchen counter or dog hair on the floor. The first thing anybody can smell when they enter a house is if a pet lives in your place. Vacuum, and then vacuum again. Make sure the windows have been cleaned. The counters should be wiped off. A common oversight is toothpaste in the bathroom sink.
5) Be realistic. Yes, I thought my house was worth a lot more money than I listed it at. However, I was realistic and listed at what the market would bear. The price was competitive but also allowed a little room for negotiation. I went in with the intent that I would not give it away, but I had a price in mind that I would not go below. The market is better than in 2009, but don't expect to get 2007 prices.
Over and above all my tips is a recommendation to hire a good realtor. I chose Marsha Wolber of Long and Foster based on her experience and personality. I liked her as a person and knew she did a good job for her clients. She was straightforward in her assessment, which I appreciated. I didn't want Marsha to tell me what I wanted to hear; I wanted her to tell me what I needed to do to sell my house for top dollar. And she did. And I did.
I was an active, motivated seller. I loved my home, but I detached myself from the emotion of selling the place I had lived in for 13 years and treated it like a business transaction. Because in the end, that is precisely what sells a house.
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